Monday, May 15, 2017

Task for this Season

I grew up on a farm beside the Pareora River in South Canterbury. It was a marvellous life, so I left school early to become a farmer. After a couple of years working on the farm, I realise that I did not have the strength and stamina that farming needs.

I was really concerned about the poverty and suffering rampant throughout the world. The problems seemed to be economic and political, so I decided to go to university and study political science and economics. By the time, I had completed four years study, I realised that I was digging a dry well. These disciplines did not have the answers to the problems that worried me.

While growing up, our family had gone to church every Sunday, but for me it was just a habit. When I reached university and studied philosophy, I decided that I was an atheist. However, I found it is hard to be an honest atheist, because life loses meaning and purpose. So I constructed a safe philosophical god that suited me.

While I was studying for a Masters degree in economics, I had a deep encounter with the living God. He said, “I am who I am. You are trusting in an empty box. If you want to follow me, you need to accept me as I am”. I surrendered to him and decided I would live by his Word and Spirit.

A few months later, I had an exam for a paper on comparative economics. The lecturer was a staunch socialist. Full of my newfound faith, I wrote in my paper that Marx has no solution to the problems of mankind and that Jesus is the answer. I gave a similar response in a second exam paper.

Surprisingly, I passed the degree with excellent grades. But they must have decided to tackle the problem, because one of my lecturers asked to meet with me. He acknowledged that He was an atheist. He said that he could not understand it, but he admitted that my faith seemed to be real.

He said it was not enough to say that Jesus was the answer. He said that I needed to explain how the answer would work out. Then he asked a telling question that has haunted me ever since. “What would the economy and society look like if everyone was a Christian”. I had no answer to that question. I knew it would be different, but I could not explain how.

My lecturer suggested that I should enrol in a Ph.D programme and he would supervise me while I developed an answer to that question. I took his advice, but after a couple of months, I realised that I simply did not have enough knowledge to tackle the problem. There were very few books or journal articles to draw on.

So I pulled out and moved to Dunedin to study theology in preparation for ministry. However, I always knew that I would come back one day and answer that important question. In this next season, my first task is to publish my book called the Government of God (it is nearly done). My main task is to answer the question that beat me back when I was a young economics graduate.

Since then I have studied and thought deeply about both theology and economics. I am now prepared to answer the tricky question. I am planning to write a book about economics from God’s perspective. I will probably call it God's Economy. I expect that it will take me at least a year to compile and write all the thoughts and concepts that I have developed.

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